Sony ZV-1 II vs Sony ZV-1 - Which is Better?
The ZV-1 has been a very popular compact camera for Sony since its launch back in 2020, offering lots of features designed specifically for vlogging and content creation. Now the new Mark II version of the ZV-1 has been launched in May 2023.
So how does the new ZV1 II differ from the original ZV1, and which of these cameras is the right one for you?
We're bringing you this in-depth Sony ZV-1 II vs Sony ZV-1 head-to-head comparison to help you choose between them.
Both the ZV-1 and the ZV-1 II use exactly the same 20.1 megapixel, 1-inch stacked Exmor RS stacked sensor, so the image quality is the same.
The stacked Exmor RS sensor in these models gives them some advantages over the APS-C sensor ZV-E10 camera, primarily in burst shooting and slow-motion video capabilities (more on those below).
Both cameras use exactly the same powerful Bionz X image processor, which allows them to shoot at up to 24 images per second using the electronic shutter!
The ISO range of the Sony ZV-1 and ZV-1 II is the same, ISO 100 to ISO 12,800, which can be expanded by one stop to 25,600 using the special Multi Noise Reduction mode.
This is the single biggest difference between these two cameras.
The original ZV-1 has a 24-70mm f/1.8-2.8 equivalent non-removable zoom lens, as previously seen on the popular RX100 series (the RX100 IV to be specific).
The new ZV-1 II has a much wider 18-50mm f/1.8-4 equivalent zoom lens that's better suited to vlogging, particularly when holding the camera at arm's length for selfie recording and group shots.
We were slightly critical of the 24mm lens in our Sony ZV-1 review, so it's great to see Sony listening to feedback and implementing this crucial change in the 2023 Mark II version.
There are some tradeoffs, though, with the zoom range being noticeably shorter - 50mm versus 70mm - and the maximum aperture being a stop slower at the telephoto end - f/4 versus f/2.8 - both of which will make it harder to throw the background out of focus when shooting at the 50mm focal length than on the previous camera.
Sony do provide the Clear Image Zoom digital zoom function on the ZV-1 II which increases the focal range from 50-100mm "without any appreciable loss in image quality".
On the ZV-1 II the zoom can be operated by using the touchscreen in addition to using the physical rocker switch on top of the camera, with selectable zoom steps running from 1x / 1.5x / 2x / 4x plus icons for W (wide-angle) and T (telephoto) to quickly change the angle of view at the press of an onscreen icon.
Both cameras have the same hybrid auto-focus system with 315 phase detection and 425 contrast detection AF points.
Both of them also offer Sony's excellent real-time tracking system, including Eye AF for humans/animals for stills and humans for video, plus the Face Priority autoexposure (AE) function, which detects and prioritises the subject’s face and adjusts the exposure to ensure the face is depicted at an ideal brightness.
New to the ZV-1 II is the Multi-face Recognition mode which has trickled down from the recently launched ZV-E1 full-frame camera.
In this mode the ZV1 II will automatically stop down the aperture when another person comes into the frame to help ensure that all the people are in focus, rather than just the original one, which is a great feature for group selfies where you want everyone to be in focus.
Also new to the Mark II version is animal AF tacking in the movie mode - on the ZV-1 it's limited to stills shooting only.
The core video specs of the two cameras are essentially the same.
So on both the Sony ZV-1 II and the ZV-1, video can be recorded in 4K resolution at up to 30fps, whilst Full HD can be recorded at up to 100/120fps depending on whether you have chosen the PAL or NTSC format.
Both models feature Sony's S-Log2 and S-Log3 gamma and HLG curves which enable them to record greater dynamic range.
Sony have added the Cinematic Vlog setting from the ZV-E1 to the new ZV-1 II model.
This allows you to choose from a range of different cinematic Looks and Moods and combine them to your own particular style. The resulting video is the automatically shot in the widescreen Cinemascope aspect ratio (2.35:1) at 24fps with black bands above and below the image. for a true cinematic feel, all by simply selecting the Cinematic Vlog option.
Sony's range of Picture Profiles are also present and correct, meaning you can match the footage shot with the ZV-1 II or ZV-1 with higher-end cameras such as the A7 IV.
New to the ZV-1 II are a selection of 10 different Creative Looks, again inherited form the ZV-1 E1.
The stacked sensor additionally gives both cameras the ability to offer special HFR modes where you can shoot short video clips at 250, 500 or 1000fps, with footage then saved at 25fps for super slow motion playback.
Sony have improved the microphone quality on the new Z-V1 II when compared to the original model.
The upgraded intelligent 3-capsule mic from the ZV-E10 now offers three different settings - front, rear and all directions - so that you have more control over the sound recording depending on where your subject. is positioned.
It also sports a wind reduction design with a detachable Dead Cat wind shield provided in the box. Clear voice isolation is great for recording your voice and not the background, and there's also a dedicated Multi Interface Shoe for an external microphone and other extra accessories.
Both cameras also offer an all important 3.5mm microphone input, but there is still no headphone output.
Both camera's offer Sony's special vlogger-friendly features - Background Defocus, Product Showcase and a Tally light.
Both have a Background Defocus button. For vloggers the aim of this button is to switch between having the background blurred or clear. In photographic terms it is switching the aperture between the largest available for the attached lens and a stopped down value.
The Product Showcase mode is an autofocus mode that alerts the camera to switch the focus from a person's face to an object that may be held up in front of the camera. It is a popular YouTube technique for when wanting to show an item to the viewer, but on cameras with slower autofocus it can leave the focus fixed on the presenter's face with the product out of focus, and vice versa. The Product Showcase mode solves that issue, adding another plus point for vlogging with these cameras.
A recording lamp (tally light) is also provided on the front face of the camera body for an at-a-glance indication of the current video recording status, and a red color recording alert square is displayed on the LCD screen too (both can be turned off).
Live streaming is possible directly from both cameras simply by connecting it to a computer or compatible mobile device via USB, eliminating the need for a video capture card. This allows the camera's video and audio capabilities to be used for live social media and video conferencing. Both the UVC and UAC standards are supported for improved picture and sound quality during streaming.
Both of these cameras have a built-in ND filter - the Z-V1 has a 2-stop filter and the Z-V1 II has a slightly stronger 3-stop filter.
An ND filter helps you to shoot at larger apertures on bright days, which is extremely useful when shooting video and trying to stick to the shutter speed being double the frame rate rule.
Thanks to the stacked image sensor, the Sony ZV-1 and Z-V II both offer a very fast maximum burst rate of 24fps with continuous AF/AE tracking.
Body and Design
The original ZV1 and 2023's ZV1 II cameras are virtually identical in terms of their external design, apart from the different zoom lens and a massive 2g in weight! (the Mark II version is lighter).
Where they differ is the onscreen controls, with the ZV-1 II providing a greatly improved and expanded smartphone-like user experience that better suits its target audience.
You can shoot entirely using the on-screen icons along the bottom of the screen, and a simple swipe-up from the bottom quickly accesses the Function menu screen which houses frequently used settings.
All of the same external buttons and controls are the same on both models, there's just a lot more touchscreen control available on the new Mark II version.
One important change is the ability to charge the ZV-1 II camera via its USB-C port using an external powerbank or similar, something that was sorely lacking on the original version.
Also, if you use the external Sony GP-VPT2BT Bluetooth shooting grip (which Sony strongly recommends), it no longer blocks the battery/memory card compartment.
Neither the ZV1 II or the ZV1 offer any certified level of weather-sealing, so you'll need to be careful and/or protect the camera in inclement weather.
With regards to stabilisation, there is Optical Steadyshot built-in to the ZV-1's and ZV-1 II's lenses. This will give you a couple of stops extra to play with when taking still images, and it will smooth out the lightest of movements when shooting video.
Both cameras offer the option to switch on Active SteadyShot in video, which is a digital form of stabilisation. This crops in to the image slightly to give the camera so digitally move the image frame around to compensate for any larger movements.
It works very well, creating very stable footage when handholding and taking out all but the heaviest of footsteps when walking. The catch is that because of the slight crop, if you are vlogging your face will appear larger when in the frame.
We would suggest only using it when walking or zooming in to show something, and when presenting to camera stick to using the Standard Steadyshot mode.
Finally, camera-shake metadata is recorded by the built-in gyro sensor that's inside both cameras, allowing handheld footage to be smoothed out and stabilised in post-production using Sony's Catalyst Browse / Catalyst Prepare desktop application.
Neither camera has a viewfinder, so if you don't enjoy using an LCD screen for composition, you'll need to look elsewhere entirely.
Both cameras have a 3-inch, 921,000 dot LCD screen which is hinged to the side of the camera and offers 180 degree rotation.
This means it can be flipped out to the side and rotated forwards by 180 degrees for vlogging or self-portraits (or selfies as they are now known), as well as being able to fold the screen in to the camera body to offer protection when you just want to carry the camera loose in a bag or pocket.
The ZV-1 and ZV-1 II both have a single memory card slot which supports UHS-I type SD cards.
Both cameras use the NP-BX1 battery, with battery life quoted as being between 45-75mins of video or 260 stills.
The older Sony ZV-1 is priced at £700 in the UK and $800 in the US.
The new Sony ZV-1 II costs €1000 in Europe, £XXX in the UK and $XXX in the US.
The new Sony ZV-1 II and older ZV-1 are both excellent vlogging options, with the former improving on the latter principally by widening the lens, enhancing the screen operability and enabling power delivery via the USB-C port.
With the ZV-1 continuing in the range, are those upgrades enough to justify the extra cash for the new 2023 version?
So what do you think? Would you choose the Sony ZV-1 II or the Sony ZV-1, and why? Leave a comment below!